Special Edition – The Armenian Genocide Anniversary

Executive Summary:

  • Sarkes pauses to recognize the 106th anniversary of the Genocide of the Armenian nation by the Ottoman Turks
  • April 24, 1915 is considered the beginning of the Armenian Genocide
  • The United States Government has finally recognized the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Empire

Sarkes is a descendent of survivors of the Armenian Genocide where all 4 of his grandparents immigrated to the United States, one illegally.  

Sarkeses Paternal Grandparents Sarkis and Khanem Korkoian with father Yero on the pedestal 

Sarkeses Maternal Grandparents Soghomon and Zaghig Ossian, mother Alice back row middle

The Armenian Genocide was the systematic mass murder and ethnic cleansing of 1.5 million (of approximately 2 million) ethnic Armenians from their traditional homeland within the Ottoman Empire during World War I.  

The anniversary of the Armenian Genocide is commemorated every year on April 24.   April 24, 1915 is considered the beginning of the Armenian Genocide, which started with the deportation and execution of Armenian intellectuals and political leaders.

The United States Government has been slow to recognize this Genocide of the Armenia people primarily due to a strong Turkish Lobby,  and fears of the political ramifications of disrupting relations with Turkey.  Turkey is a key NATO ally and the US maintains military operations, and Nuclear weapons, in Turkey as the first line of defense against Russia.  

In late 2019, both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate passed resolutions recognizing the Genocide of the Armenian people. Recently, President Biden has also recognized this Genocide.  With Biden’s recognition,  the United States Government has now formally recognized the Genocide of the Armenian people.  Why this took 106 years cannot be logically explained.

The History:

The Ottoman Empire, which started in the 16th Century, was ruled by Turks who had conquered lands extending from Eastern Europe to North Africa and West Asia. Within the Ottoman Empire, an Islamic State, other religions (Christian, Jews, etc)  lived in relative peace but as 2nd class citizens, being denied participation in government, paying discriminatory taxes, and more.  

In the 19th Century, the Ottoman Empire was in serious decline.  By 1914, the Ottoman Empire had lost all of its conquered lands in Eastern Europe and Africa.  These losses created enormous internal pressures which contributed to the intensification of ethnic tensions.  Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, having seen the secession of former Ottoman territories in Europe and Africa, aspired for greater representation and participation.  

As the Ottoman Empire declined in the late 1800’s, a new political group, the Young Turks seized power.  As the Ottoman armies suffered a string of military defeats, a convenient scapegoat was the Armenian people who were blamed as collaborating with the enemies of the Ottoman Empire, especially Russia.  When World War I broke out in 1914, the Ottoman Empire joined Germany and Austria-Hungary and declared war on Russia, Great Britain and France.

The Young Turks had a strategy of making the Ottoman Empire a homogeneous Islamic state, and used the war as a convenient excuse to order the deportation of thousands of Armenians from their homeland thru the Syrian desert to Allepo.  In fact, this “resettlement program” were death marches designed to surgically remove Armenians from the Ottoman Empire with little or no destruction of their property. 

The “resettlement” of the Armenian people was actually a death march where few survived

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the current Republic of Turkey was formed, and all related matters of resettlement and restitution to the Armenian survivors of the Genocide was soon forgotten.  What were the consequences of not immediately addressing the Armenian Genocide?  In Nazi Germany, as Adolph Hitler planned the Genocide of the Jews in Europe, when challenged about ramifications, Hitler said:   “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” We all know how that worked out.

The Republic of Turkey was formed at the end of World War I and after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.  From day one, this new Turkish Government has strongly denied that the Ottoman Empire had committed Genocide against the Armenian people.  Their denial is based on the assumption that the “relocation” of Armenians was a legitimate state action in response to a real Armenian uprising that threatened the existence of the empire during wartime. The Turkish Governments positions that the Ottoman Empire intended to resettle Armenians rather than kill them. They claim the death toll is exaggerated or attribute the deaths to other factors, such as a disease, bad weather, rogue local officials, or bands of Kurds and outlaws. Therefore, their main argument is that “There was no genocide, and the Armenians were to blame for it.”    Turkish denial is usually accompanied by rhetoric of Armenian treachery, aggression, criminality, and territorial ambition”.  Let Sarkes interpret:  The Ottoman Empire almost eliminated the entire Armenian nation, and it was all the fault of the Armenians. 

In summary, the population of historic Armenia was eliminated from the region.  The surviving refugees spread throughout the world, and Armenian diaspora now numbers 11 million with 1 million in the United States.  The current population of the Republic of Armenia is 3 million. 

Follow Up:  Sarkes recommends to those of you who might be interested, to do some reading about OPERATION NEMESIS.  1921, a tightly knit band of Armenian assassins set out to avenge the deaths of the victims of the Armenian Genocide. They were a humble bunch: an accountant, a life insurance salesman, a newspaper editor, an engineering student, and a diplomat. Together they formed one of the most effective assassination squads in history, hunting down and killing the leaders of the Ottoman Empire and architects to the Armenian Genocide.  

Sarkes outside the Gardens of the Armenian Embassy in Washington, DC

Note:  If interested, one can Google “Armenian Genocide Images”, but be prepared for some very horrific and unsettling pictures of the Armenian Genocide.